Thursday, March 03, 2016

Book Review of Called by Mark Labberton

Called: The Crisis and Promise of Following Christ Today
by Mark Labberton
ISBN 978-0-8308-3683-3
IVP Books
Reviewed by Clint Walker

A few years ago, I went to a conference on missional church development. While I was at that conference, Mark Labberton spoke. I had heard about a few of his books, bought one, but had not read any of them. As he kicked off the conference, I was impressed with his thoughtfulness and depth. I was also impressed that when I briefly approached him in order to get information about a citation he made during the presentation, he took interest in my life and ministry. He seemed to truly have a pastor's heart, even though he had been elevated to a minor Christian celebrity by taking the helm of one of the most influential seminaries in the world. And so, as I left the conference, wanting to learn more from Dr. Labberton, so I bought this book IVP was aggressively marketing entitled Called. I was not disappointed.

As I read through this book, I was impressed, moved, and challenged. Although I have lived out my sense of call to vocational ministry for a few decades now, I was challenged to revisit what it means to be called by Jesus as his servant. I was also encouraged to prayerfully reconsider how I was living out my call, and begin to refocus.

This book, however, is not just for helping pastors refine and understand a call to full-time church work. Called is a battle cry to each and every believer to realize that they are called by Jesus, and to begin to actively and uniquely live out their faith as their authentic selves in the place where God has planted them.

Labberton addresses the phenomenon of being called by Jesus from a number of different perspectives. First, he spends some time teaching about ways that all believers are called by Christ. We are called to follow and obey Jesus if we call ourselves Christians for example.

Next, we examine the contour of what being called to follow Jesus looks like. It requires, we are taught, a different way of looking at the world and looking at our lives. We are also taught that if we embrace the call of Christ we need to be prepared to identify with the marginalized and suffer ourselves, among other things.

In the final chapter, Labberton encourages his readers to use some helpful tools to put some more specificity on what God may be calling individual disciples to do, and who he may be calling them to become.

This is a book I am going to put on my "active reading" shelf, and come back to over and over again. Called is a book that has the potential to revitalize and refocus one's vision for ministry.

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